Bhubaneswar, November 19 (LocalWire): Expressing deep concern over lack of mental healthcare facilities for jail inmates in the state, the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has directed the prison directorate and Health and Family Welfare Department to initiate ameliorative measures and furnish action taken report (ATR) in this regard.
The OHRC issued directions following recent reports that five percent of jail inmates in Odisha are suffering from mental illness and there was no psychologist or psychiatrist to look after their health issues.
The rights panel has asked the concerned authorities to submit the ATR by 31 December 2019.
As per the National Crime Control Bureau (NCRB) report released recently, 787 jail inmates in the state were suffering from mental illness, of which 412 were convicts undergoing prison sentence at different jails, while 375 of them were under-trial prisoners.
Odisha has 91 jails, including five circle jails, two juvenile reformatory homes, and one special jail for women inmates.
Besides, the state also has an open-air jail, nine district jails, and 73 sub- jails.
Overall, the 91 prisons in Odisha house 15,223 inmates, including the convicted and under-trial prisoners, the report said.
The jail inmates are protected under the provisions of the Jail Manual, 2016 that mandates the jail authorities to take proper care of the health of the inmates.
“The mental health act has also made it mandatory to extend psychiatric treatment to prisoners suffering from depression or mental sickness,” rights activist Biswapriya Kanungo stated in the petition to the rights commission.
The jails in Odisha are overcrowded, lack of space, have poor ventilation, and sanitation. The lack of hygiene is adversely impacting on both the physical and mental health of jail inmates. We have drawn the attention of the Odisha Human Rights Commission on the sorry plight of 787 prison inmates, who are not being extended mental health care,” he stated.